5/18/14: Leadership Reading to Start Your Week

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Here are choice articles on hot leadership topics culled from the business schools, the business press and major consulting firms, to start off your work week. I’m pointing you to articles about leadership, strategy, industries, innovation, women and work, and work and learning now and in the future. Highlights include when convictions blind leaders, marijuana boom spawns ancillary businesses, innovation: why startups work, female entrepreneurs driving growth in small businesses, and a glimpse into the workplace of the future.

Be sure to look for dots that you can connect.

Note: Some links require you to register or are to publications that have some form of limited paywall.

Thinking about Leadership and Strategy

From Brad Power: How GE Stays Young

“GE is an icon of management best practices. Under CEO Jack Welch in the 1980s and 1990s, they adopted operational efficiency approaches (‘Workout,’ ‘Six Sigma,’ and ‘Lean’) that reinforced their success and that many companies emulated. But, as befits a company that has been around for 130 years, GE is moving on. While Lean and Six Sigma continue to be important, the company is constantly looking for new ways to get better and faster for their customers. That includes learning from the outside and striving to adopt certain start-up practices, with a focus on three key management processes: (1) resource allocation that nurtures future businesses, (2) faster-cycle product development, and (3) partnering with start-ups.”

From Eric Kutcher, Olivia Nottebohm, and Kara Sprague: Grow fast or die slow

“Sustaining growth is really hard. Two facts emerged from the research. Companies have only a small probability of making it big. Just 28 percent of the software and Internet-services companies in our database reached $100 million in revenue, and 3 percent reached $1 billion. Of the approximately 3,000 companies we analyzed, only 17 achieved $4 billion in revenue as independent companies. Moreover, success is fleeting. Approximately 85 percent of supergrowers were unable to maintain their growth rates, and once lost, less than a quarter were able to recapture them. Those companies that did regain their historical growth rate had market capitalizations 53 percent lower than those that maintained supergrowth throughout. There is a recipe for sustained growth.”

From Schon Beechler: When Convictions Blind Leaders

“Many leaders are passionate individuals, often highly driven by deeply held philosophical convictions or values. This can make them very influential but can also cause them and others to lose sight of potential trip wires.”

Industries and Analysis

From David Pierson: Marijuana boom spawns ancillary businesses

“Container brands like Kush Bottles are among a slew of ancillary companies joining what many are calling the green rush. Where there’s weed, there’s also a growing need for everything from greenhouses and fertilizer to pipes and vaporizers.”

From Amol Sharma: In Latest Network Reset, Fox Grounds ‘Pilot’ Season

“Mr. Reilly’s willingness to make such a bet demonstrates how broadcast networks are beginning to change decades-old traditions as they contend with an ever-widening array of competitors. When Fox greets advertisers Monday at its annual ‘upfront’ event—the kickoff to negotiations to sell much of the coming year’s ad time—the network won’t just be showing off a new stable of content. It is also proposing a new way of doing business.”

From Dana Hull: Q&A: SunPower CEO Tom Werner, on solar’s next big thing.

“The next big thing for the renewable energy industry is storage, and SunPower is about to add energy storage to its solar offerings. The Mercury News recently interviewed CEO Tom Werner in his San Jose office; the interview has been edited for length and clarity.”

Innovations and Technology

From Travis Hessman: Innovation: Why Startups Work

“What do independent startups have that the deep pocket, established R&D labs don’t? Nothing. And that’s the point.”

From Vanessa Chan, Marc de Jong, and Vidyadhar Ranade: Finding the sweet spot for allocating innovation resources

“A survey finds that when it comes to reallocating R&D expenditures, more isn’t necessarily better.”

From Alexander Saric: How To Leverage The Knowledge In Your Networks

“Everyone knows business is increasingly connected. But the way we’re connected, and the value we derive from those connections, is changing. In particular, the knowledge that’s now intrinsic to our networks can drive innovation—in products, processes, business models, and more. But to leverage network knowledge for innovation, you have to know where to find the knowledge and how to put it to use.”

Women and the Workplace

From Selena Rezvani: Career talk for women

“When leaders don’t talk about their mistakes, they indirectly reinforce the perception that women who make it to top ranks have perfect judgment, had ‘golden paths’ to leadership or were never rejected or told ‘No.’ A young woman who is already skeptical that a leadership role is a plausible career goal now sees a grand canyon between herself and a woman leader.”

From Joyce M. Rosenberg:  Female entrepreneurs driving growth in small businesses

“Women are starting companies at a torrid pace. Between 1997 and 2014, the number of women-owned businesses in the U.S. rose by 68 percent, while the overall growth rate for companies was 47 percent, according to an American Express analysis of Census Bureau figures. They are starting an estimated 1,288 companies each day, up from 602 in 2011-12, American Express says.”

From Michael Lindenberger: Women in business: ‘The culture should change’ as the nature of work itself changes?

“People simply don’t work like they used to. I am writing this post from Starbucks off DuPont Circle, a mile or so from our office in the National Press Club. Not too many years ago, I had a job in another state where the editor wanted to know, at any given time, where his correspondents were. Where the in the office? A coffee shop? Working at home. It seemed important to his sense elf managerial control. Well in today’s newsrooms, that attitude is as dead as yesterday’s news. I’m comfortable, productive and engaged. I am working toward a mission, not a role. Turns out, that’s happened in far greater degrees all across the work world. The places where it hasn’t are some of the industries where progress for women is tougher. I asked a few very smart thinkers on management to think about this and related issues.”

Work and Learning Now and in the Future

From Mark Allen: Talent Management and Corporate Universities

“Corporate universities are strategic levers typically thought of as having a major role in employee development. But what if corporate universities can be used to provide value in all of the talent management functions? We could gain the power of applying a lever to a lever to propel our organizations forward. This article explores that notion and provides real-world examples of corporate universities that are being used in a variety of talent management functions beyond employee development.”

From Carmen Nobel: Reflecting on Work Improves Job Performance.

“New research by Francesca Gino, Gary Pisano, and colleagues shows that taking time to reflect on our work improves job performance in the long run.”

From Charity Delich: Best of Multimedia: A Glimpse into the Workplace of the Future

“This infographic from Top Management Degrees offers a preview into the future workplace—including changes in telecommuting (3.9 million people in the United States are predicted to be teleworking by 2016), communication practices (employees are gathering for ‘stand-up’ meetings), and technology (such as shared electronic whiteboards and ‘bring your own device’ policies). The only thing missing—for now—is the robotic assistant.”

Wally Bock’s Curated Posts on Leadership

5/13/14: By and About Leaders

Pointers to posts by and about Jack Ma, Sarah Fisher, John Mulligan, Elon Musk, and Tom Murry.

5/14/14: From the Independent Business Blogs

Pointers to posts by Art Petty, Jesse Lyn Stoner, Terry “Starbucker” St. Marie, Karin Hurt, and Lolly Daskal.

5/16/14: Stories and Strategies from Real Life

Pointers to stories about A.T. Kearney, Kensho, Office Depot, Samsung, and Triumph Motorcycles.

Grit” and “Book Review: Overcoming an Imperfect Boss by Karin Hurt” were popular posts on my blog last week.

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